The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review of: How to Win A Local Election

Review of: Judge Grey, Lawrence. How to Win a Local Election: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide. Forewords by Haley Barbour (Chairman, Republican National Committee); & David Wilhelm (Chairman, Democratic National Committee). New York: M. Evans & Co., 1994.

Reviewed by Tim Krenz

Upon its publication in 1994, this short “liturgy” for running successful or even competitive local races for political office, instantly became your reviewer's self-styled “Primary Text for Political Activism 101.” For the past 19 years since graduating university, the simple, direct, and honest suggestions for direct and personalized politics presented by Judge Grey have proven worthy of the many failures, and a few successes, I've had as an activist working on political campaigns.

The title's inference, “local election,” at the community- or county-level, implies the strongest relationships in public politics, that of voters and the local officials they elect to manage affairs. For no government governs better, nor do individuals have greater access and impact on any government, than the government that sits down the street at village hall, or city hall, or a few miles more up the road at the town hall or county courthouse.

More than 18 years progressed since publication of How to Win a Local Election. And by this 2012 Presidential election year, America, and the world, face an entirely new era of political methods and strategies. In 1994, long before Facebook, Google, or a useful and efficient public Internet (though the latter began emerging) and at the dawn of the affordable personal desktop computer, Judge Grey details how, if so fortunate, a campaign volunteer might have the equipment, software, and expertise to build a candidate's database—to produce mailing labels for post office delivery of literature.

Judge Grey used and refined the methods, sample materials, and calendar checklists he describes in many of his successful election and re-election bids as a candidate. Even without the technology and tools we have today, the main message of the book holds that candidates for local election needed to present face, handshakes, and listening ears, and have the courage and tact to build relationships, not via email, phone-bots, youtube, or “suckerbooks,” but in person and in the flesh. For at the level where a neighbor gains elected office, he had to remain accessible and accountable to his neighbors who elected him to guard and serve the community needs, and the citizens' best, individual interests.

In this new era of e-politics, where in “analog campaigning” thousands, or millions of volunteer hours were required for state- or Federal offices, today's technology and the tools reduce activism to the maximum efficiency of effort with far fewer volunteers. Even local elections seem to lose the person-to-person familiarity. In addition, the direct and honest approach suffers in favor of the fads and frauds of data-mining lists of eligible voters-all of it in order to manipulate the accumulation of personal or indeed private preferences and sensitivities to get the quick emotional vote. No matter the level of the office, the efforts of people and politics reduce the complexity to a mouse click or an entered factotum.

The American political system loses sight of the simple things about character, and the real people either running for office or those affected by government policies. All-in-all, we surrendered our choices to the Monster born of the unholy matrimony of money, marketing and media. This year, we may reach the absurdity of money in the election system. All told, scores of billions of dollars for all-races, from President downward, will be spent on one thing: Voters deciding on who will make their decisions.

Politics has a very imprecise science as its root: Deciding who gets what, where, when, why and how much someone or a group will get. The art of politics rests on deciding personal interests, or to a lesser extent, a group's interests, and forwarding an agenda against opposing agendas and the people in opposition. Pundits, candidate's, and confused voters seem to complicate the matter far too much, but the aforementioned gets down to the dirty point of all direct or indirect relationships, in a political system (or personal relationship). Hence, the main theme of Judge Grey's entire manual: Politics is about people and how decision-making by decision-makers affects each and every one of us. .

Elections really have nothing to do with voter machines, identification cards, phonespam calls, email blasts, or a “like” or “unlike”button on a website. Throw out polls and all the other dysfunctions of money, marketing and media, and rest all political decisions on one basic fact: “What do I want to get from voting for a candidate; What's in it for me?” Whether one wants lower taxes or social equality, that question just asked reduces to a minimum what every voter needs to ask themselves and a candidate, if given a chance to meet him or her.

My vote, or even two, will not matter who wins the Presidency. My one vote or my activism in my community may, however, impact the government I can reach just by walking down the street. If all people did that conscientiously, then democratic balloting really would be worth the beliefs we have of it. No nation builds itself or survives by imposing wrong decisions from the top down. It all begins and ends with the person most affected by government: The one single voter. And no matter what, a person cannot fake genuine, nor break principles and still call it principled. A Monster of money, marketing and media will always surface at the right time to do the wrong things. But a candidate I know, and with whom I share a cup of coffee, may earn my trust, and my respect. At any level of politics and government, we need to return to that simple level of a relationship, or we will not keep either the meaningful vote, nor a republic where people, even those who have no suffrage, win and own the sovereignty needed to make our choices for our own reasons. In sum, we need to elect someone in our best interests as a whole. Be aware of the Monster!